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Here we go again.
The Internet Archive, a project to create a digital library of the web for posterity, successfully fought a secret government Patriot Act order for records about one of its patrons and won the right to make the order public, civil liberties groups announced this morning.
On November 26, 2007, the FBI served a National Security Letter (.pdf) on the Internet Archive's founder Brewster Kahle, asking for records about one of the library's registered users, asking for the user's name, address and activity on the site.
Wired reports on the story.
Wired reports that the FBI issued back dated blanket subpoenas to telcos to cover their acquisition of telco records.
While I find the Patriot Act necessary, I also find its abuse repugnant.
The DOJ's IG found:
Top officials at the FBI's counter-terrorism division signed the blanket subpoenas "retroactively to justify the FBI's acquisition of data through the exigent letters or or other informal requests."
Either do it as laws and regulations allow or don't do it at all.
Oral arguments before the US Supreme Court in Boumediene v. Bush and Al Odah v. United States and the disclosure of two standard operating procedures manuals used at Guantanamo's Camp Delta have kept Law Librarian Blog editors pretty busy lately. For quick reference, a compilation of recent posts to source materials and analysis has been produced. See This Post.
Kelly writes "Amazing accounts from writer Naomi Wolf, who is finding out that, in her travels throughout the US, people are waking up to the encroaching darkness. Here's her book-related observations, "Someone else says that his friend opened his luggage to find a letter from the TSA saying that they did not appreciate his reading material. Before I go into the security lines, I find myself editing my possessions. In New York'a La Guardia, I reluctantly found myself putting a hardcover copy of Tara McKelvey's excellent Monstering, an expose of CIA interrogation practices, in a garbage can before I get in the security line; it is based on classified information. This morning at my hotel, before going to the airport, I threw away a very nice black T-shirt that said "We Will Not be Silenced" — with an Arabic translation — that someone had given me, along with a copy of poems written by detainees at Guantanamo." More here: http://www.commondreams.org/archive/2007/10/12/450 2/"
mdoneil writes "A United States District Court Judge has ruled that parts of the USA PATRIOT Act unconstitutional. The parts which amend the FISA were reviewed by the Oregon District Court Judge in the Mayfield et al case.
You may recall Mayfield as the lawyer who was arrested because his fingerprints were found in Spain after the bombings of the Metro in Madrid before their last national elections. Well, in case you were wondering it was a mistake — neither he nor his fingers were there.
Read the order here
It will be interesting to see how this plays out."
Kelly writes "Looks like the next time I want to read Edward Abbey's "The Monkey Wrench Gang" or something by Noam Chomsky, I will need to listen to an audiobook version of it on my pod. Because, as it turns out, "The U.S. Government," according to the Washington Post, "is collecting electronic records on the travel habits of millions of Americans who fly, drive or take cruises abroad, retaining data on the persons with whom they travel or plan to stay, the personal items they carry during their journeys, and even the books that travelers have carried, according to documents obtained by a group of civil liberties advocates and statements by government officials." Don't you feel safer from terrorists knowing the feds know what we are reading while traveling? I wonder why they need to keep such information in a database for 15 years? That's right — 15 years, not a typo. More here: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/artic le/2007/09/21/AR2007092102347.html?hpid=topnews"
In October 2001, a man was kicked off a flight because of what he was reading. In 2003, G-Men paid a visit to someone's house after they were caught reading anti-invasion materials. Then the FBI warned us to be on the lookout for persons reading almanacs. Now, Wired News reports that carrying around a book titled Drugs and Your Rights may also get you noticed by security personnel.
Seemingly acceptable though he may be to Republicans and Democrats alike in Congress, President Bush's new appointee for the position of Attorney General, Michael B. Mukasey, is a strong supporter of the Patriot Act. The International Herald Tribune reported that Mukasey said in a speech in 2004, "That awkward name may very well be the worst thing about the statute."
More cautiously, The Capitol Times of Madison, WI reports "For instance, in a May 10, 2004, op-ed, which was published as the debate about fixing fundamental flaws in the Patriot Act was heating up, Mukasey defended some of the act's most extreme excesses and dismissively told critics to avoid what he termed "reflexive" or "recreational" criticisms of it." The paper calls the candidate "something less than a rule-of-law man when it comes to constitutional matters. As a contributor to the right-wing editorial pages of the Wall Street Journal, the retired judge has written several articles that suggest he would have trouble balancing civil liberties and national security concerns."
The Wall Street Journal, endorses Mukasey thusly "Earth to Washington: You finally have the right man for the right job at the right time. Try not to screw this one up." New York Times reports on Mukasey's close connection to Republican Presidential Candidate Rudy Guiliani and others in the New York legal community.
Here's today's NY Times editorial on the nominee, which refers to statements Mukasey made in 2004 denouncing the "hysteria" of Patriot Act critics, and lashing out at the American Library Association for trying to protect patrons' privacy..
More on the Patriot Act ruling by Judge Marrero.
Yes, there is a stay, according to Information Today (thank you mdoneil for pointing this out). The article elaborates: "The court could not identify a solution to these concerns within the PATRIOT Act and enjoined the entire NSL provisions from being enforced. However, recognizing the "implications of the ruling and the importance of the issues involved," the court agreed to stay its ruling pending appeal.
There has not been an appeal as yet. As the ruling was handed down in New York State, the appeal will be heard by the U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit. From last week's article: "Judge Marrero delayed enforcing the decision pending an appeal by the government. Rebekah Carmichael, a spokeswoman for the United States attorney's office in Manhattan, said the government has not decided whether it will file one."
The court also offered some suggestions as to how the Act may be modified to pass constitutional muster. These include allowing a temporary NSL nondisclosure order, provided that the FBI either notify the NSL recipient when they can disclose information about the NSL or justify to a court the continuing need for secrecy. The NSL recipient must also be allowed to petition a court to allow disclosure or challenge the NSL.
It would be up to Congress to implement these suggestions, or an appellate court to overrule Judge Marrero's opinion. While the status quo remains pending on one or the other of these actions, at least for now, the PATRIOT Act's NSL provisions are in jeopardy.
ps - if you haven't voted in the poll as yet, please do so...
A federal judge today struck down parts of the new U.S.A. Patriot Act that authorized the Federal Bureau of Investigation to acquire corporate records using informal secret demands called national security letters.
The law allowed the F.B.I. to force communications companies, including telephone and Internet providers, to turn over their customers records without court authorization and permanently to forbid the companies from discussing what they had done. Under the law, enacted last year, the ability of the courts to review challenges to the ban on disclosures was quite limited.
Today's New York Times reports: Judge Marrero wrote that he feared the law could be the first step in a series of intrusions into the role of the judiciary that would be the legislative equivalent of breaking and entering, with an ominous free pass to the hijacking of constitutional values.
According to a report from the Justice Department's inspector general in March, the F.B.I. issued about 143,000 requests (big number there)through national security letters from 2003 to 2005. The report found that the bureau had often used the letters improperly and sometimes illegally, case in point, the letters served to Connecticut's Library Connection.